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11.18.2008

World of Goo

Now for something a little different: a video review of a new game I've been playing.  For those few readers who don't personally know me: you get to hear my voice for the first time.  Yeah, sorry about that.  I'm afraid I have a radio face and silent film voice.  I'm just lucky that way.

This is my first time attempting such a thing and I may do more videos in the future as I really enjoy this kind of thing and have the equipment.

11.08.2008

The Free Music Revolution

I’ve been meaning to blog on this for quite sometime.

In the past, we’ve done posts artists giving away their music for free.  This approach seems great for indie bands.  Not many people are going to risk buying an album from an artist they’ve never heard of, but if the album is free what have they got to lose?

This is what happened to me with artist Derek Webb.  Back in 2006, Webb decided to give away his album Mockingbird.  All you had to do was share the link with some friends.  The prospect of free music intrigued me (though admittedly, I had also heard of Webb through Caedmon’s Call) so I went and got the album.  After listening to and enjoying Mockingbird I decided to buy some of his other albums.  And just like that, he’d made a fan out of me.  I probably wasn’t his only new fan.  Over the space of three months, 80,000 copies of Mockingbird were downloaded.

For the niche artist, it is arguable that fans are more valuable than actual album sales.  Eventually, fans will become sources of revenue.  Fans will go to shows and buy merchandise and tell their friends.

After the success of the Mockingbird giveaway, Webb co-founded a website called NoiseTrade.com, a site entirely devoted to giving away music.  Sort of.  Actually, to be clear, the deal is this.  You may either pay what you want for a given album or tell five friends about it, the idea being that, “Artists bring good music and an open mind.  Fans bring a few friends or a few bucks.”

NoiseTrade.com is part of a growing trend of artists giving away their music.  Clay Bell, Fono, and Andrew Osenga are just a few artists we’ve mentioned in the past who have given away some of their music for free.

Even some well-known, established bands seem to be tiring of the standard record label method of distribution.  The best example of this is Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want experiment with their latest album In Rainbows.

More recently, Nine Inch Nails decided to give away part of their new instrumental album Ghosts in high-quality (360kbps) DRM-free MP3.  The rest of the album can be purchased for only $5 online (Josh and I both highly recommended this album).

Time will tell how well this distribution model will work.  But for now, I recommend you take advantage of it.  Download some free music; try some new artists; expand your musical horizons.  Support good artists.


Free Music Mentioned:
•    Clay Bell (currently offline)
•    Fono
•    Andrew Osenga (Letters to the Editor I & II)
•    Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I (click on "listen" then "download free" in the pop-up window)
•    NoiseTrade

NoiseTrade Recommendations:
•    Derek Webb – The Ringing Bell
•    Disappointed By Candy – Disappointed By Candy
•    Photoside Café – EP Combo
•    SYNTHAR - Evenings & Weekends
•   Sixpence None the Richer - My Dear Machine EP (yes, they're back)

11.07.2008

Audiosurf

I'm not really into rhythm games.  Guitar Hero, Rock Band, DDR and the like don't do a whole lot for me.  I can see where they would be fun: if you're "playing" along with songs you know, but I hardly ever know any of the music from those games.  Moreover, I don't want to spend $100 or more for fake instruments that only work with on particular series of games.  That, to me, is crazy.

A recent rhythm game called Audiosurf actually takes care of both problems.

Audiosurf looks like a cross between F-Zero and Guitar Hero.  Basically, you control a futuristic race-hover-car thing as it races along a track populated by various color blocks which you collect to increase your score.  Pretty standard for a rhythm game, really.


Here's the cool thing about Audiosurf: you can use play along with almost any music file!  This means you can play through your entire music library (provided it's in a supported format: MP3, MP4, WMA, OGG, CD).

Audiosurf's engine analyzes the sound file and builds a course based upon the song's dynamics.  Slower sections of the song will have you traveling uphill and going more slowly while faster and more intense bits will be quick and exciting.

So what about the price?  It's regularly $10 which isn't bad, but it's currently on sale for $2.49!  No foolin'!  That's cheep enough for an impulse buy!

Audiosurf is only available through Valve Corporation's Steam client which is basically like iTunes for PC Games.  Obviously you'll need a Windows-enable machine to run it (I was going to say "PC," but then I remembered about OSX's Boot Camp).  If nothing else, I recommend you try out the demo (also available through Steam).

Two other cool things about Audiosurf:  One: it's an independent game.  Two: it comes with the Orange Box Soundtrack for free which has some great music in it.